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Sunday Jun 19, 2022

Fans shocked as Saracens half back escapes red

The Premiership final between Leicester Tigers and Saracens was a pulsating game from start to finish. Both sides attempted to impose themselves tactically and physically over the other – which saw large amounts of kicking and one or two questionable tackles.

Now the dust has settled on a final fit for the brilliant Gallagher Premiership season, and everyone has stopped watching clips of Freddie Burns‘ dramatic last minute drop goal; specific moments within the 80 minutes can be looked at in more detail.

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One of these moments was Saracens scrum half Aled Davies’ yellow card late in the first 40. Davies was sin binned for a shoulder to head tackle on Leicester hooker Julian Montoya but questions were raised at the time over whether the colour of the card should have been red.

The officiating team on the day, led by Wayne Barnes, supported their decision of a yellow card by saying there was mitigation in the drop of height by Montoya and also the fact that Davies’ tackle was not dominant.

This however has sparked a larger debate rather than clarify the issue. Many supporters and pundits, such as Andy Goode, have questioned whether a backs tackle against a forward could ever be dominant –  and what the result would have been if it was the other way round.

Which then raises the question of if a smaller player commits foul play against someone much larger than themselves could it ever result in a red card.

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Alternatively, ex-England captain Lawrence Dallaglio supported the decision of Wayne Barnes and when speaking to BT Sport, clarified that he too saw a drop in height which warranted only a yellow.

It must also be said that Barnes had a very strong game along with the rest of the officiating team and the game flowed extremeky well.

Although the decision did not have a large bearing on the game, it seems as though rugby lawmakers are at another crossroads when it comes to tackling.

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This incident coupled with the numerous debatable tackles in the semi-final between Saracens and Harlequins has put player safety and high tackles under the spotlight once again.

Rugby has always been, and will continue to be, a very hard game to officiate and it is important to remember that referees at any level deserves tremendous respect for what they do.

However, moments like this (whether it was the correct decision or not) and the subjectivity of the laws often leaves fans rather confused at what the framework is.

Nevertheless, Aled Davies’ tackle and the resulting card did not overshadow the final, and was definitely not the moment everyone was talking about afterwards – enter Freddie Burns stage left.

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